Texas Civil War Museum – White Settlement

I finally made a trip to the Texas Civil War Museum in White Settlement.  From their website:
The Texas Civil War Museum opened in January of 2006. With over 15,000 square feet of exhibits, it is the largest museum west of the Mississippi River.  The Civil War Museum is privately owned and founded. The museum gallery is shared with exhibits on loan from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Texas Division.  The museum consists of three separate galleries that display a civil war collection, Victorian dress collection and United Daughters of the Confederacy Texas Confederate collection.
There were a LOT of great items on display.  The first things you walk through are the uniforms and arms.  Each side is divided by Union and Confederate items.  There are many forms of rifles and pistols, each with a description, date and approximate production.  The uniforms are well worn, some with what appears to be blood stains from small wounds.  I noted that the makers of those uniforms LOVED brass buttons.  Not a single coat had less than 20 of them.  There was also not a single uniform that would have fit my 6’, 200lb frame.  Either they were much smaller back then or many of the uniforms were designed for much younger men who had yet to fill out all the way.  Probably a little of both.
One of my favorite exhibits was the band instruments.  There are coronets that still have the valves like their modern counterparts, but are oddly shaped.  There are also predecessors to the baritone and valve trombone.  Lots of fifes and a few drums.  Most of the items have a description of the person who owned the item at the time and many have pictures of the items with their owners.  
Further along you get the medical section.  As many know, field medicine was mostly cutting stuff off.  The exhibits are not gruesome, but they are descriptive.  Finally there is an entire section devoted to the dresses ladies wore from about 1800 – 1890.  It is quite amazing they ever got dressed or could make it around in those things.  At the very beginning is a description of the corset and what it did to a woman’s ribcage.  Clearly a man designed it since it really just resembles a form a torture.
I went through by myself and at a very slow pace.  I got a chance to reflect on the feeling that each of these items was owned by a human with hopes and dreams.  Looking at a picture of a young man in his uniform, you wonder what he was thinking after the picture.  How did he feel?  From this side of time, we know he died a few weeks later.  War is such at senseless thing and it usually harms most that want nothing to do with it.  

Bass Reeves

From the publisher:

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. As a U.S. Marshal – and former slave who escaped to freedom in the Indian Territories – Bass was cunning and fearless.

When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn’t like the notion of a black lawman.

For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crach shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. Bad News for Outlaws reveals the story of a remarkable African American hero of the Old West.”

I had the good fortune to run across this when I was down town and as luck would have it, our local library had a copy.  I love stories of the Old West, especially the ones that are about characters that just seem larger than life.  After reading this and looking at some of the other resources, Bass Reeves was just one of those characters.  While the man’s life would seem the stuff of legend, many of the events are backed up by other sources.  The author, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, uses colorful language and slang from that time to add to the enjoyment of the book.  She also has a short biography of Judge Parker (of Parker Co. fame), a list of other resources and glossary of terms.  While it is a kids book, I think I got more out of it than the kiddos.  It’s definitely worth a look.